- Title: The Broken Empire Trilogy
- Author: Mark Lawrence
- Genre: Fantasy
- Series: Trilogy.
- Available in library?: No
- Would recommend to: fans of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Joe Abercrombie fans.
Reviewed by Joel Duggan
“Every man has his thorns, not of him, but in him, deep as bones.”
The Broken Empire is Mark Lawrence’s debut series. It begun with Prince of Thorns in 2011, King of Thorns in 2012 and the final book, Emperor of Thorns in 2013. A fantastical, semi-historical world with science fiction and post-apocalyptic undertones, it is the first of Lawrence’s series in the world of the Broken Empire.
The Broken Empire follows Honorous Jorg Ancrath and his band of outlaws (the Brotherhood), a group of vicious and cruel men who want nothing more than to kill and pillage and Jorg is the worst of them. But Jorg wants more. He wants justice for his dead mother and brother, who he watched die as he hung from a patch of thorns. He wants vengeance against his father, who ruined his childhood. But most of all he wants to be emperor over the Broken Empire, the group of warring nations who haven’t united in hundreds of years. But dark forces are rising and death isn’t what it used to be. The necromancers are banding together and their leader has his sights set on Jorg.
The Broken Empire can be a hard book to read sometimes. It has stirred some controversy due to its graphic content and for good reason. There were scenes that shocked even me, particularly a certain dream sequence in the third book. Despite this, The Broken Empire is still a solid series. The disturbing parts are necessary for a series such as this and it wouldn’t have left as lasting an impression on me if Lawrence had made an attempt to “tone it down”. I can also respect the fact that Lawrence does not go easy on his characters. He puts Jorg through everything imaginable. This is part of the reason why Jorg’s character arc is one of my favourites of all time. He’s an undeniably evil character, but through flashbacks (which Lawrence uses quite well in all of the books) you start to understand why Jorg turned out the way he did. Lawrence also has this ability to make you like a character no matter how cruel he is. I found myself liking not just Jorg, but all of the Brothers (though there is a lot of them and you might find yourself forgetting or mixing some up). The story is told from a 1st person perspective, so we get to see Jorg’s thoughts on everything that is occurring as it happens. This makes for some compelling and entertaining writing. 1st person perspective was really used well here.
The setting is also one of the more original ones I’ve read of. Essentially, it is a post-apocalyptic world that has advanced to the Middle Ages and is set in a drastically changed north-western Europe where Britain has been flooded and the landscape is much more bleak. But some information and devices from before the apocalypse have survived, like the works of Sun Tzu, the religion of Christianity and the names of some countries. Relics from the “Builders” (the people that lived before the apocalypse) are treasured and have affected the world greatly.
The Broken Empire was a great series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you enjoy other books that have the same grimdark vein like A Song of Ice and Fire or anything by Joe Abercrombie, this is definitely something you’d enjoy.
For more information on Mark Lawrence and his other works, check out his website here.
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